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Title: A body and a dream : West African youth, mobility and football trafficking
Author: Esson, J.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Football trafficking, particularly the exploitation of male West African youth, has become the object of much recent academic and political concern. This thesis provides an alternative theorisation and counter narrative to the neoclassical and structural historical theories that dominate accounts of football trafficking, and African football migration more generally. These dominant accounts ignore migrant agency and subjectivity, as well as abstracting football migration from broader social relationships. By doing so, they cast migration and development as antagonistic, and seek to solve the problem of trafficking by returning young migrants home. This approach is diametrically opposed to the migratory disposition of young African males, who see development as freedom through spatial mobility. The alternative framework for understanding football migration elaborated in this thesis thus places central emphasis on the subjectivity and agency of West African male youth, as these are shaped by broader socio-economic contexts, such as the racial and gendered signification of sport. Contrary to arguments based on structural historical theories and anti-trafficking policies, this thesis shows that young West African males are not migrating just because of neo-colonial relations in the footballing political economy, nor because traffickers dupe them. Rather than casting these young West African males as passive victims, or stressing their commodification, the thesis portrays them as 'entrepreneurs of self', who actively try to migrate through football because they see it as a means of overcoming the uncertainty and constraints on life ambitions facing them in Africa. The thesis takes the form of a 'critical ethnography of migration'. It is based on field research with male African youth in Accra (Ghana) and explores how and why they are drawn into the football industry, and follows the trajectory of young African players to Europe, explicitly Paris (France).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available